You can start these exercises anytime, even during the last trimester! Try to do them at least every other day to gain strength and flexibility.

Trunk Exercises:

Internal abdominal tightening: Strengthens deepest abdominal muscles that support your abdominal contents and prevent bulging.

  • Lie on your back with knees bent.
  • Place your hands on your abdominals to feel them contract.
  • Prepare by breathing in through your nose.
  • Blow out slowly and forcibly, pulling in your abdominal muscles.
  • Visualize your belly button being pulled toward your spine.
  • Relax and breathe in again.
  • Perform 10 times.

Pelvic Tilt: Strengthens abdominal muscles.

  • Lie on your back with knees bent.
  • Place your hands on your lower abdomen to feel them contract.
  • Prepare by breathing in through your nose and contracting your pelvic floor.
  • Roll your pelvis back and press your low back flat into the floor.
  • Breathe out through your mouth and maintain the pelvic floor contraction as your tilt.
  • Hold for count of 5, perform 10 times.

Bridges: Strengthens buttocks and back of thighs.

  • Lie on your back with knees bent.
  • Tighten your buttocks and abdominals.
  • Slowly lift buttocks off of floor until your back and legs form a straight line.
  • Breathe OUT as you lift.
  • Slowly lower to starting position.
  • Perform 10 times.

Curl-ups: Strengthens your abdominal muscles. Check for diastasis recti BEFORE performing these! See below for information on diastasis recti and if you should be doing the modified exercises.

  • Lie on your back with knees bent.
  • Cross your arms over your chest.
  • Breathe out as you slowly lift your head and shoulders off of floor.
  • Slowly lower and return to starting position as you breathe in.
  • Perform 10 times.

Leg Exercises:

Squats: Strengthens leg muscles needed for labor and daily activities. Can be done alone or with a partner.

  • Place back against a wall or hold opposite arm of partner, feet shoulder width apart and do a pelvic tilt (squeeze belly button in toward spine).
  • Against wall: Hold pelvic tilt as you “walk out” one step with each foot.
  • Slowly bend your knees until they just hide the tips of your toes. Alone: slide down the wall. Partner: both of you bend your knees together.
  • Hold for a count of 5, keep pelvic tilt and perform a pelvic floor contraction, exhaling as you return to straight legs.
  • Perform 10 times.

Roll outs: Strengthens outer hips and helps with pelvic stabilization.

    • Place hands on outside of thighs just above knees.
    • Slowly spread your knees apart breathing OUT
    • Slowly return to resting position and breathe in.
    • Keep your back straight
    • Repeat 10 times

Pillow squeeze: Strengthens inner thighs and helps with pelvic stabilization.

    • Sit up with feet flat on floor and a straight back.
    • Feet should be 1-2 inches apart and your feet knees and hips should be aligned.
    • Place a pillow between your knees.
    • Slowly squeeze pillow breathing OUT!
    • Slowly return to starting position. Do not let the pillow fall out (and you can’t use your hands!).
    • Repeat 10 times.

Seated Wide Leg Stretch: Stretches inner thighs and hamstrings. If done with a partner, also strengthens stomach and back to improve posture.

    • Sit on floor with legs shoulder-width apart, back against wall or partner.
    • Alone: Coming forward at the hips until you feel a gentle stretch, sliding hands along legs for support, hold for count of 20 return to start, do 5 times.
    • Partner: Same as above but use the weight of your partner as a resistance to push against as you return to start, stomach tight, walking hands upward on legs.

Calf Stretch: Stretches the calf muscle and prevents calf cramping.

    • Face wall with hands on it for support.
    • Place one foot behind the other.
    • Keep back knee straight with toes pointing forward.
    • Bend front knee and lean toward wall until stretch is felt.
    • Hold 20 seconds. Perform 5 times on each leg.

Arm Exercises:

Wall Push-Ups: Strengthens arms and chest.

  • Stand facing wall, one foot-length away, with hands flat on wall (fists, if you have wrist pain) at shoulder height.
  • Slowly bring chest in toward wall (do not strain neck toward wall), bending arms at elbows.
  • Make sure belly is tight, back is straight, use arms to push away from wall.
  • Do this 5 times
  • Progressions: Farther away from the wall, lower and lower (and always stable) surfaces, in a doorway or corner for an increased stretch across the chest.

Shoulder Blade Pinches: Strengthens postural muscles and stretches chest.

  • Sit with back against wall or partner.
  • Raise arms in “surrender” pose – out to the side with elbows and shoulders at 90 degrees.
  • Elbows and wrists should be touching wall or partner’s elbows and wrists.
  • Press elbows and wrists back while squeezing shoulder blades together.
  • Do not lose contact!
  • Hold 5 seconds. Perform 10 times.

Total Body Stretch:

Rack Stretches: Elongates and stretches the body, arms and legs.
Lying on your back, perform these stretches in the following order, stretching apart at the wrist and the heel as if you are on a medieval rack, holding each for a count of 5:

  • Right wrist, right heel
  • Left wrist, left heel
  • Right wrist, left heel
  • Left wrist, right heel
  • Both wrists, both heels


  • Decompression Exercise: Relaxation is important in helping the nervous system and other organs to function properly during your pregnancy.
  • Lying on your left side, one pillow between legs, another to “hug”
  • Practice breathing in through your nose, out through your mouth
  • Give yourself at least 5 minutes of quiet time at the end of your exercises to do this.
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